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Higher FSI will kill the already strained infra in Mumbai and won't make property cheaper - 18 February, 2015

Mumbai: The  civic body’s move of increasing the floor space index for the entire city up to a maximum of 8 that will change Mumbai's skyline has been criticized by urban planners and housing experts  as it could have a  disastrous impact on the city’s infrastructure.

As per the draft development plan for 2014-2034, MBC has decided to introduce the new concept of variable FSI which means the plots can use FSI from 2.5 to 8. The earlier development plan had prescribed 1.33 FSI in the island city and 1 in suburbs in a bid to contain population growth and density. It has now proposed to be raised to 2.5 uniformly.

“First of all, the carrying capacity of the area needs to be increased and then the FSI should be increased. It will neither reduce the housing prices nor will have the affordable housing for poor. It will have disastrous consequences on the city’s infrastructure,” Chandrashekhar Prabhu, a housing expert told Firstpost.

He further said that the people who currently have adequate facilities would be deprived of it if the proposed FSI comes into effect. “Whenever the FSI has been increased, it said that it is meant to reduce the housing prices and to provide affordable housing. It has never happened so far,” said Prabhu adding that the increase in FSI will only benefit the developers.

On whether the supply increase in only concentrated areas like Dadar and Andheri will lead to higher prices, Zia said,": There is a big challenge in front of the administration to control the inflation in real estate. However, these small and haphazard policy matter changes here and there only add negativity. They actually bring the prices up. So, unless there is the consolidated master plan with good focus on infrastructure development whatever supply we are talking of coming in that will only have further northward pressure on the prices."

Neera Adarkar, an architect and urban researcher, said that it will have an adverse impact on the quality of life. “There will be extreme load on the existing infrastructure due to the increase in density by the proposed higher FSI,” Adarkar said.

"This whole master plan does not take into consideration the infrastructure requirement of the city. So, unless the integrated infrastructure plan is put into perspective, increasing the FSI will only kill the already strained infrastructure further and that can kill the lifestyle of the whole city," said Gulam Zia, Executive Director at Knight Frank India.

The Civic body has also proposed open spaces to be 2 square meter per person uniformly. As per the 1991 DP, the capita open space for citizens is proposed to be 2 square meter per person (sqm pp) in the island city and 6 (sqm pp) in the suburbs. Currently, the average per capita open space available in the city is only 1.24 square meter.

“There is no clarity on how there will be double open spaces. In the last DP also, the number on open spaces was on paper and more than one third was already occupied,” she added.

While the civic body has also proposed an FSI of five and above for the transit oriented development around important  nodes that include areas close to major sub-urban, metro and monorail stations, transport experts also said that the move will only create more chaos in the city.

“The places like Chuchgate, Dadar and Andheri are already dense and also, there is no shortage of commercial places in city,” said a transport expert, who wished not to be named.

But AV Shenoy of Mumbai Vikas Samiti believes that transit oriented development is a good move by the civic body but it is not based on any logic.

“It should be based on some logical factors. The government should come out with a policy on some logical factors for increasing the FSI in city and suburbs,” said Shenoy adding that the samiti will soon take up the issue with the state government.

However, Sunil Mantri, president of National Real Estate Development Council said that it is a positive step in right direction and would generate more supply of housing. “This move will help to generate more supply of hosing in market which is currently restricted. It has also the simplification of rules and regulations compared to existing ones. Money required for infrastructure comes from land and FSI across the globe. But, the money generated from it should be strictly used for the development of city’s infrastructure,” he added.

But some are also concerned that premium for extra FSI has been linked to the ready reckoner rates which are revised years and could also lead to a rise in prices of Transferable Development Rights.

"If premium for extra FSI is attached to the ready reckoner, it can be a good revenue generator for BMC, but will be counter-productive as far as prices are concerned. We have already seen this year, that ready reckoner can be higher than even the actual market price. Even TDR prices will go up as more developers will try to attain the highest FSI and go vertical," said Lalit Kumar Jain, national chairman of Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Associations of India ( CREDAI).

Civic officials said that the plan soon will be open for public for suggestions that will heard by a committee of expert. Then the final plan will be prepared by the civic body and will be sent to the stat government for its approval, said a civic official.

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